Tempel, Tuss race hangs on provisional ballots

Havre Daily News  November 8, 2018

With all precincts now reported in the race for Senate District 14, incumbent Sen. Russ Tempel, R-Chester, appears to be the winner but the final tally when provisional ballots are counted next Tuesday could change that.

Tempel took 4,493 votes in the unofficial count, 139 more than Havre Democrat Paul Tuss’ 4,354.

As many as 140 more ballots will be counted next Tuesday, depending on verfication of their validity.

A provisional ballot is cast when a voter says they are legal to vote but their voting registration cannot be verified, such as if an absentee ballot was sent out but lost or never received and the voter votes at the polls. The ballots are verified and then counted after 3 p.m. on the Tuesday following the election.

Tempel this morning thanked Tuss for a clean campaign and said, if he ends up the victor after the final count, he is looking forward to getting back to Helena and working with the people there.

He added that the staff he worked with in Helena was incredibly good.

“I’m looking forward to getting back there with a little more experience,” Tempel said.

He was appointed to the seat in the district, which stretches from the Canadian border through Liberty, western Hill and Chouteau counties to the northeastern corner of Cascade County, to take the place of Republican Kris Hansen, who resigned her seat to take a position in the state auditor’s office.

He had to run for re-election this year.

Tuss, who made his first bid for office this year since he lost in the Democratic Primary for Montana secretary of state in 2000, said he had a very rewarding experience in the race.

“For nine months, we worked our hearts out on this campaign,” he said. “It was one of most challenging things I’ve done, but also one of the most rewarding.

When you knock on 10,000 doors, you get a much better understanding of what people’s hopes and aspsirations are for themselves and their families,” he added.

He said he hadn’t even thought about what he would do if the provisional ballots bring him to a position where he could request a recount.

Under Montana law, if the difference in votes is less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the ballots cast, a recount must be held.

If the difference is from one-quarter of one percent to less than one-half of one percent, the candidate can, within five days, request a recount and put up a bond to cover the cost.

If all 140 provisional ballots count and Tuss picks up 95 votes, he can request a recount. If he picks up 113 votes, a recount should automatically be held.

Tuss said he doubts he can pick up enough to request a recount, adding that the ballots will probably split fairly close to what the ballots already counted went. If it does allow a recount, he will decide then, he said.

He said he will support Tempel if he does end up the victor.

“I wish him nothing but success and will do everything I can to help him in his job in the state Senate,” Tuss said.

 

https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2018/11/08/local/tempel-tuss-race-hangs-on-provisional-ballots/521233.html

Remember to vote on Election Day

Havre Daily News, November 2, 2018

On Jan. 11th of this year, I wrote a check for $15, filled out a form on the Secretary of State’s website and signed on the dotted line to become a candidate for the Montana Senate in District 14. Since that cold winter day over 290 days ago, I’ve had the unique opportunity of traveling the highways and dirt roads of this sprawling rural district, which encompasses a large section of northern Montana, from the Canadian border to neighborhoods in northern Great Falls.

In addition to putting thousands of miles on my truck, I’ve also listened to thousands of residents of this special place, as I’ve asked them about how state government should function, what their priorities are and what they expect from their legislators.

The residents of this district have been engaged, thoughtful and welcoming, and for that I am thankful. They also have great ideas about what they expect from state government — and those ideas are consistent with the key areas I’ve been discussing during the campaign on porches, front doors, driveways and during listening sessions.

Developing common-sense solutions to the challenges we face is nothing new to our area. Through necessity, rural Montanans have always come together, regardless of partisan affiliation, to invest in our communities, build our infrastructure and educate the next generation. A positive, forward-focused outlook concerning our collective future, and not worrying about who gets credit for good ideas, has sustained our region in good times and in bad. These ideas are what people in northern Montana continue to support as they look to the future.

Supporting quality schools, building community infrastructure, protecting public lands, keeping college tuition affordable, assuring rural hospitals remain open and financially viable, and helping small businesses to thrive are the key components of my campaign. They are also the issues most important to the residents of Senate District 14.

As the general election nears, I want to thank the residents of this Senate district for their thoughts, ideas and encouragement. It is only through genuine, respectful dialogue that we will be able to make this special part of Montana an even better place to live, work, raise a family and build a business.

I would be honored with your vote on Election Day, or by absentee ballot. Regardless of who you support, however, remember to vote. Our future depends on it.

https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2018/11/02/opinion/remember-to-vote-on-election-day/521156.html

Investing in public education is key to a healthy Montana economy

Havre Daily News, September 21, 2018

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The crispness of the air, football season, big game hunting and a fresh start to the school year. This year is no exception. Especially as my daughter begins her freshman year of college in the Montana University System, it’s important to reflect on the role that education plays in our lives and in society.

As a product myself of Montana’s K-12 public education system and as a first-generation graduate of the Montana University System, I know firsthand how critical education is to career readiness, critical thinking and being an active, engaged community member. Like the nearly 40,000 students currently enrolled in Montana’s public colleges and universities, I was fortunate to receive a top-notch education right here under the Big Sky.

My tuition was covered through savings, scholarships, part-time work, summer employment, Pell grants and the generosity of the residents of Montana, who picked up a good amount of the cost for me and other state residents to attend college. It was always viewed as a good deal — the state of Montana would invest in its young people, and by doing so would create tomorrow’s workforce. It’s important for that tradition to continue, and properly supporting our university system will be a key priority for me as your state Senator, just as I have done as a member of the Montana Board of Regents.

The importance of the value of public education at every level in our state cannot be overstated. Regardless of income status, where you live or your ethnic background, Montana’s public education system gives everyone a fair shot at success.

By investing properly in our education system, the State of Montana is helping the private sector grow by creating an educated workforce. We’re also helping individuals obtain skills that will give them a better chance at personal and career success. State funding for K-12 education also demonstrates a genuine commitment by state government to partner with local communities and share the responsibility to educate our sons and daughters, who will end up serving as the leaders of tomorrow.

If elected to the state Senate, I look forward to being a strong advocate for the proper funding of our public education system in Montana. Our economy and our future depend on it.

——

Paul Tuss is executive director of Bear Paw Development Corporation, a member of the Montana Board of Regents and is the Democratic nominee for Senate District 14.

https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2018/09/21/opinion/investing-in-public-education-is-key-to-a-healthy-montana-economy/520533.html

Now is the Time: Tuss Runs for Senate

The Havre Herald, September 27, 2018

“I’m still young enough to care about stuff, yet old enough to know I don’t have all the answers.” Now is the perfect time, Paul Tuss says, to run for public office. The opportunity to win a seat in the state Senate seems like a natural fit to him.

Politics have been part of life for as long as he remembers. In college he switched degrees from journalism to political science. As an adult, the itch for public service has lingered in the background, waiting to be acknowledged and engaged. In 2000, he scratched a little and unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state.

Paul believes the timing to run for office couldn’t get any better. The pieces in his life, the ones that have fallen away and the ones still standing have formed a path to, hopefully, the Senate.

Paul is running for the state Senate District 14 seat. He will try to unseat Russ Tempel of Liberty County, an Army veteran, former farmer, and former Liberty County commissioner who served three terms. In November, voters of SD 14 will decide if Tuss or Russ will represent them.

Campaigning is constant, exhausting work, he’s discovered. On Saturday, Paul walked in the Festival Days parade, with a bag of candy in tow to give to kids clamoring for sweets. During a sit-down with The Havre Herald on Sept. 18, Paul said his campaign has knocked on 5,000 doors, an air of gleeful accomplishment accompanying the news.

Paul Tuss hands out candy at Festival Days on Saturday.

But campaigning is not just physical work. Even when all is quiet and the day is nearly over, he’s still on the trail, working in a different capacity. “If you’re not doing something about the campaign, you’re thinking about it.”

But he believes it’s worth it. Because it’s fun. Because this is what he wants to do. Because hard work is enjoyable when there is purpose.

The first thing one might notice about Paul is that he smiles a lot. It seems to come very naturally. He also enjoys telling anecdotes.

One of the stories he told was about the time he and the governor snuck out for a beer.  The story was prompted by the governor’s visit to Havre, which happened the day of the interview. Gov. Steve Bullock stopped in Havre to talk about agricultural development and health care. The governor is a longtime friend of Paul’s, going back to when they were teenagers. The two have hunted together and Bullock, Paul said, gesturing toward the couch the reporter was sitting on, has used that exact couch as a bed more than once.

Sometime during his second year as governor, Paul said, Bullock came up to Havre and stayed at the Tuss house. After his security detail left, Paul snuck the governor to Triple Dog Brewing Co., for beer and conversation.

“We felt like teenagers,” Paul said, almost giggling.

Unsurprisingly, the patrons drinking at the popular Havre brewery made them. The governor was in the house, people recognized.

Bullock made it back safely that night.

A New Weird Reality

Since Nov. 1, 2000, Paul has been the executive director for Bear Paw Development Corp. in Havre. Originally from Anaconda, he came to Havre –but not before he stopped in a few other Montana places along the way –for that job.

When he moved to Havre, Paul not only took over the former executive director of Bear Paw Development’s position, but he took his old house. The old director had already moved out and moved on. The Tusses, new to town, needed a home. So, at first the new executive director stayed in the former executive director’s house, sleeping on a blowup mattress, thinking his stay there would be temporary. Eventually, concluding there was no other house in Havre they liked better, Paul and his family moved in.

A lot has changed since Paul first moved to Havre. The house is once again empty. But not like it was during those first days. The furniture and knick knacks and pictures and all the inanimate items are still there. So is the couch on which Bullock sleeps. But the Tuss children are gone. His daughter, who left for college a month ago, was the last to go, leaving Paul alone in the house to confront the new “surreal” reality of an empty nest.

“It’s super weird,” he says.

Two years ago, Paul’s wife of 27 years, Pam Hilery died. The anniversary of her death was last Friday.

Paul and Pam met at University of Montana, she from Virginia, he a catholic Montanan born to and raised by blue collar parents of five. They married in 1989 and then had two children.

Paul and Pam agreed that public life was important.  Pam served two four-year terms on Havre City Council, and after she came down with ALS, she was appointed to fill a council vacancy. Over the years, she was active in a host of youth, educational, cultural, musical and political activities in Havre. Pam publicly shared her battle with the deteriorating disease on Facebook, in newspaper columns and at community lectures. Even as her death neared, she was a strong advocate of the proposal to spend millions of dollars to rehabilitate Havre’s crumbling streets.

Had Pam not died, Paul says he doesn’t know if he would be running for office. But public life is certainly something they had discussed. Paul says Pam would have been encouraging in his run.

“I can honestly say I can feel the gentle push of Pam at my back to do this,” he said. “If she was here, she’d be in the thick of things.”

Pam’s death activated enormous changes to his life, no question about it. Life was altered forever. Running for office is Paul filling a void.

“When Pam passed, I knew there’d be a new chapter for me. I knew that something would be different,” he said. “I knew that something would come along to fill the void.”

Politics

When it comes to issues, reasons he wants to represent people as a legislator, Paul has a list he’s passionate about.

“The umbrella that all those issues fit under is the utility of rural Montana.”

As someone who has been involved in rural development for so long, it’s in his DNA to care about the issues, he says. It all ties together into why he’s running for office. “All those things are part of who I am and part of why I ran, making sure rural Montana has a seat at the table.”

Infrastructure, one of the issues dear to his heart, is the “foundation of our economy,” and without proper investments in bridges, roads, water and sewer systems, and broadband, among others, a community cannot thrive, he begins.

“For us to grow, we need to be serious about investing in infrastructure,” Paul said.

One of the subtopics of the infrastructure conversation is bonding, a topic the two major parties don’t usually agree on, he said. One way or another, roads and bridges will need money for upkeep and repairs, projects that would serve their purpose for many years. Bonding is a way for those types of projects to be paid for over a long period of time using state and local resources. Bonding would also defer some of the cost from local taxpayers. And to combat the argument that bonding would just create more debt, Paul said that if repairs aren’t made via bonding, the entire cost of an urgent project would end up in the laps of local taxpayers, when a great deal could have been absorbed by the state.

“It’s affordable. You get it done. You’re improving your communities, and you’re creating jobs.”

He is also an ardent advocate for Medicaid expansion. Without it, there would be 90,000 Montanans without health care, he says. If Medicaid expansion goes away, “we’ll go back to the old way,” he adds, to the days when people without insurance walked into the emergency room, received care, and ended up with a very large bill that may or may not be paid.

Without Medicaid expansion, Paul says, rural hospitals are the ones most in danger of closing. And when a hospital goes, schools follow. And once that happens, the domino effect of a disintegrating community begins, Paul says.

There are more issues: Public lands access, taxes, funding for Montana State University-Northern – all those are topics he’d like to discuss at length.

Paul used those issues to segue into another problem he sees when it comes to politics: How legislators are, or aren’t, working together on Montanan’s concerns.

There are issues that shouldn’t be partisan. Yet, that’s exactly what has happened, Paul believes.

There’s a problem in the political realm. It’s become more about the parties. Legislators want more to make sure the opposing party looks bad than they want to address people’s concerns. This is something he says he hears often when talking to people on the campaign trail. People want government to do their job.

“People want the crazy dysfunction to end,” he excitedly says.

And that’s where he comes in. A man in his professional position has had to learn how to work with people of differing political persuasions. Among the evidence, he mentions former Havre mayor Bob Rice, a Republican, who’s written a public letter of endorsement of Paul. And Mr. Rice is not the only one, Paul continues, tacking more local names onto the list.

“At the end of the day, we’re Montanans before we’re Republicans or Democrats.[KM5]

“People want government to function.”

Montana Hobbies

As a Montanan, Paul participates in some quintessential Big Sky traditions.

Paul owns firearms and he is an avid hunter. He likes to say he has more firearms than he needs but not more than he wants. He has a group of friends he hunts with, many of whom come from the western part of the state to bag some of the best venison around.

The thing about deer in the western part of the state is they eat sage, twigs, grass, bark. Their diet is inferior to what Hi-Line deer eat, Paul says. Deer in north-central Montana eat grain, good northern Montana prairie grain, the kind that is world renowned. So, no wonder those on the Rocky Mountain front come to the Hi-Line to hunt.

And that is why venison, it turns out, is the exclusive meat of the Tuss household.

“That’s all we eat.”

Like a hunter stalking his prey, this November Paul hopes to get the Senate District 14 seat. He’s studied the task before him, he’s placed himself in the field, and he’s putting in the work. In November, Paul may catch himself more than good, grain-fed, Hi-Line deer.

 

https://www.havreherald.com/2018/09/27/now-is-the-time-tuss-runs-for-senate/


Tempel, Tuss face off in Senate District 14 race: Paul Tuss, Democrat

Havre Daily News, October 9, 2018

Democrat Paul Tuss of Havre is challenging Montana Sen. Russ Tempel, R-Chester, for a seat in the Legislature in Senate District 14.

Tuss said he has been executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp. for 18 year this fall and has been involved in economic development in north-central Montana for 23 years.

“I have a lot of experience in working both in the private sector as well as the public sector,” Tuss said, “and to make the economy of rural northern Montana succeed and flourish you really need both of those worlds to be successful.”

Tuss, 53, said he was born in Anaconda, the youngest of five children, and grew up in Opportunity. He graduated from Anaconda Senior High School in 1983, then attended the University of Montana, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1988.

At the University of Montana he met Pam Hillery, his wife of 27 years before she died in 2016. Tuss has two children, son Dolan, 25, who lives in Havre, and daughter Caroline, 18, who is a freshman at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Tuss has served on a variety of boards, such as the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education, which he has been on since 2011 and was also the chair of for three years; Montana Economic Developers Association, where he also served as chair; the Board of Directors for the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce; Board of Trustees for Northern Montana Hospital; Board of Directors for the Montana Cooperative Development Center, and Board of Directors for the Evergreen Chapter of the ALS Association.

Tuss has never held an elected office.

Tuss said that throughout his life he has worked for Montana’s rural communities, to improve local economies, and skills he learned in the process would be a great asset in the Montana Senate.

“One of the things that I want to bring to the state Senate, should I be elected in November, is this notion that we can have great communities and a great economy at the same time,” he said. “The two are not mutually exclusive. And, frankly, doing just that has been the work of my life for almost a quarter of a century. I want to take that experience with me to the state Senate.”

Education is another focus point, Tuss said. With his being the longest serving member on the current Board of Regents for Montana, he has been deeply involved in the university system. He added that, throughout the years, he has grown to fundamentally understand the importance higher education has for Montana youth.

It is vital that higher education remains accessible and affordable to the younger generation, Tuss said, adding that education is what drives workforce development and economic development.

“I feel very fortunate that I am a product of Montana’s public education system, K-12 and also higher education,” Tuss said. “Generations before ours made the investment to make my education possible and made me a more productive citizen, made me a more productive worker, made me a more productive Montanan.

“The least that we can do for our kids and grandkids is to give them the same type of attention,” Tuss added, ” … the same opportunity that we’ve been given to be productive citizens, to be tomorrow’s workforce. Investing in education has got to be a priority and should not be partisan.”

He said his unique experience and perspective on the subject would be a great asset if elected, adding that education is one of the biggest things facing legislation, for him, in the future.

At the end of last year when the special legislative session took place, Tuss said, the Legislature was forced to cut some programs due to a budget shortfall. He said these cuts were a result of the Legislature not taking some of the options that were presented to them.

“(The Legislature) didn’t take advantage of some of the revenue-enhancing options that they had the opportunity to,” Tuss said, adding that because of this it created a budget crisis.

“A great example,” Tuss said, “of where hyper-partisanship, even at the state level, is getting in the way of what is a very fundamental constitutional responsibility of the Montana Legislature, and that’s to create a balanced budget.”

Tuss said it is imperative that these well-intentioned, smart people who hold these offices come together and create a budget which both sides can agree on.

He said he understands that, if elected, he will be only one of 150 legislators but hopes to bring with him a real understanding of working together.

“Compromise is not a dirty word,” he said, adding that he has “a real understanding that someone other than me might have a good idea.”

“If I can have even a small impact on illuminating some of that intense partisanship and trying to get people to work together to solve difficult problems in our state, I will consider my time in the Senate to be successful,” Tuss said.

Tuss said another concern which needs to be addressed in future legislative sessions is to adequately fund Montana’s infrastructure. He said the state has a crumbling infrastructure and needs to have people willing to invest in it. The problem is not going to fix itself, Tuss said, adding that to postpone improvements would be a disservice to the people.

“The state needs to keep its commitment to communities to keep a solid infrastructure,” he said.

In addition to infrastructure, Tuss said, it is vital to do everything possible tomaintain local hospitals, adding that many in the state are hanging by a thread. People need medical attention in emergencies, he said. If local hospitals vanish in a community, the community will follow soon after, the same applying to schools, he said.

“Rural areas need to be adequately covered with proper health care and hospitals to remain open,” Tuss said.

A subject which is also significant to him, he said, is assuring public access to lands, nothing being more fundamental to Montanans than the freedom to enjoyteh beauty of their state. He added that this will be a high priority if elected.

“These public lands should be cherished and really should be passed down to the next generation in the same condition that we’ve been given them, and assuring that people continue to have – citizens of the state continue to have – access to our public lands to hunt, and to fish, and to hike. I just think that is just so important,” Tuss said.

https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2018/10/09/local/tempel-tuss-face-off-in-senate-district-14-race-paul-tuss-democrat/520784.html

Investing in public education is key to a healthy Montana economy

Havre Daily News, September 21, 2018

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The crispness of the air, football season, big game hunting and a fresh start to the school year. This year is no exception. Especially as my daughter begins her freshman year of college in the Montana University System, it’s important to reflect on the role that education plays in our lives and in society.

As a product myself of Montana’s K-12 public education system and as a first-generation graduate of the Montana University System, I know firsthand how critical education is to career readiness, critical thinking and being an active, engaged community member. Like the nearly 40,000 students currently enrolled in Montana’s public colleges and universities, I was fortunate to receive a top-notch education right here under the Big Sky.

My tuition was covered through savings, scholarships, part-time work, summer employment, Pell grants and the generosity of the residents of Montana, who picked up a good amount of the cost for me and other state residents to attend college. It was always viewed as a good deal — the state of Montana would invest in its young people, and by doing so would create tomorrow’s workforce. It’s important for that tradition to continue, and properly supporting our university system will be a key priority for me as your state Senator, just as I have done as a member of the Montana Board of Regents.

The importance of the value of public education at every level in our state cannot be overstated. Regardless of income status, where you live or your ethnic background, Montana’s public education system gives everyone a fair shot at success.

By investing properly in our education system, the State of Montana is helping the private sector grow by creating an educated workforce. We’re also helping individuals obtain skills that will give them a better chance at personal and career success. State funding for K-12 education also demonstrates a genuine commitment by state government to partner with local communities and share the responsibility to educate our sons and daughters, who will end up serving as the leaders of tomorrow.

If elected to the state Senate, I look forward to being a strong advocate for the proper funding of our public education system in Montana. Our economy and our future depend on it.

https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2018/09/21/opinion/investing-in-public-education-is-key-to-a-healthy-montana-economy/520533.html

Bipartisan Support! “Why I’ll Vote Tuss”

REPUBLICAN ENDORSEMENT! Our campaign is attracting support from both sides of the aisle. It is wonderful to have such great energy from both Democrats and Republicans. Thanks to Jeff Krauss of Bozeman for his kind words. Read his full letter to the editor.

The Havre Herald, August 19, 2018

Dear Editor,

Please excuse this intrusion from downstate. Regardless of my point of origin, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Paul Tuss for State Senate. I’m sending him money even if I can’t vote for him. But you can do both.

Generally, I pick Republican candidates, unless a more compelling candidate volunteers his or her services. Paul Tuss is that compelling candidate.

Paul will serve his constituents. Period. Not himself. Not ideology. Not the party. Paul will listen and serve.

Paul and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, including politics. I served with him on the Board of Regents and we had our differences. Still, I’m writing this letter because I trust Paul.

You know the issues. Helena spends and we pay. But still, infrastructure crumbles and services to people continue to dwindle. I’ve seen Paul set aside the bureaucracy and put students first. It’s this “prioritize the people first” stance that will benefit his Senate district — first.

We need to get back to sending that neighbor we trust in our personal lives to the Legislature to make decisions because we know their character, judgment, conscience. Paul is that neighbor. Please give him your support, and your vote this November.

Jeff Krauss

Bozeman

Tuss Talks Importance of Health Care

 

Photo: Havre Daily News From left to right Jacob Bachmeier, who represents House District 28, Paul Tuss, Candidate for Senate District 14, Brian Hadlock, CEO of Bullhook, and Tricia Ferry, who has a son with a pre-existing condition, all read statements as Aly Russell records them on Facebook Live in the Bullhook Community Health Center Jon Tester Conference Room Thursday, August 16, 2018.

Havre Daily News, August 17, 2018

Local leaders and community members discuss health care

Protect Our Care Montana held a discussion in Havre Wednesday about the importance of health care under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

State Rep. Jacob Bachmeier, D-Havre, Paul Tuss, Democratic candidate for the state Senate, Bullhook Community Health Center CEO Brian Hadlock and two local residents spoke to Aly Russell, who organized the Protect Our Care Montana event, in the Jon Tester Conference Room at Bullhook.

Paying for pre-existing conditions

Tricia Ferry of Havre said she was at the event because her son, Sam, has a pre-existing condition, and the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid are vital in sustaining his care.

Ferry’s son was diagnosed two days after he was born in 2005 with pulmonary valve stenosis, she said, a potentially fatal heart condition in which the outflow of blood from the right ventricle is obstructed at the level of the pulmonic valve, resulting in the reduction of blood flow to the lungs.

When her son was 4 months old, Ferry said, she had to take him to Salt Lake City to undergo a procedure to correct the valve.

Sam is now 13 years old and the valve is as close to normal as it will ever be, she added, although when he gets older he will need to have the valve replaced.

“With the ACA and with Medicaid, currently, I have some security in knowing that when that comes we’ll be able to do it,” she said.

But he has to have annual checkups, each of which last about three hours and costs about $3,000.

“It’s not the kind of thing that you can wait until he can’t catch his breath,” Ferry said, adding that she is using benefits from Medicaid and ACA to pay for them.

“It has been a godsend for me because I don’t know how I would be able to afford those check-ups,” she said.

She said the thought of losing coverage for pre-existing conditions terrifies her.

“It’s not my son’s fault that he was born with a bad heart valve,” Ferry said, “and he has everything to offer this world like everybody else’s child does.”

“When you’re a mom you want to fix it all,” she added. “But I can’t fix his heart and I need everything that is currently in place for that to happen.”

Paying for cancer treatments

Brett Moen of Havre also spoke about his own experience with the benefits of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

He said that, last December, after having undiagnosed symptoms for some time, his brother was diagnosed with cancer..

Moen said his brotherdid not have health insurance as he had been mainly farming for many years, and had to get Medicaid to see a doctor about his condition.

He said his brother went to Bullhook clinic to be diagnosed. A few days later he had to go to Northern Montana Hospital for a colonoscopy because the severity of his symptoms, and a few days after that he had a CT scan because doctors found polyps in his colon.

His brother had to go into surgery a few days later because they had found a tumor around where his appendix is. His brother started chemotherapy in January of this year, he said, and will once again have surgery in August in Kalispell.

“Every bit of his care depends upon his ability to receive coverage through Medicaid right now,” Moen said. “If Medicaid is disturbed … he stands to lose all of his coverage.”

He added that if his family sold the farm and all their possessions they still would not have the money to afford the care needed and that without care, his brother’s survival rate would be close to zero.

“I’m very thankful that we got this diagnosed in the area we have, where Medicaid has expanded, so we got a chance to have health care for my brother,” Moen said. “Fighting for that coverage is very important.”

He added that health care should not be a political issue but a humanitarian issue.

“I’m hoping as time goes on we can find better solutions for health care but right now, simply eliminating these programs en masse, with a stroke of a pen for an ideology that isn’t really founded in humanitarian goals, is not our answer and we need to have social services actually be provided as social services in this country,” Moen said.

Bachmeier, Tuss and Hadlock

Bachmeier said that as the youngest member of the Legislature he is often asked to share his opinion about the younger generation, adding that health care is a concern for many youths in Montana.

Bachmeier, who faces libertarian Conor Burns and independent Robert Sivertsen, both of Havre, in his bid for re-election this year, said one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act was that young adults were able to stay on their parents health care until age 26.

As a young adult himself, he said, knowing he has access to health insurance while he attends college and figures out his career gives him peace of mind.

Tuss said the Affordable Care Act allowed states to expand Medicaid in efforts to “make sure more people have access to health care,” adding that in Montana, Medicaid has been a huge success.

Tuss, who is challenging state Sen. Russ Tempel, R-Chester, said the Montana Healthcare Foundation recently teamed up with Manatt Health to study the impacts of Montana’s Medicaid. He said the study found it to have an extremely positive impact on the state’s budget and health care economy.

Around 96,000 adults in Montana now have access to health care, with 70 percent of them working, Tuss said, and the state has saved $36 million in its budget because of federal funding.

He added that 65,000 adults have received preventative health care services, including 195,000 screenings, vaccinations, wellness visits and dental exams.

The state has also gained 5,000 new jobs in the health care field, he said, with $280 million in new personal income and about $47 million in new tax revenue.

“More Montanans have insurance than ever before, uncompensated care costs for rural hospitals and clinics decreased by $103 million, 44.9 percent, in 2016 alone,” Tuss said, “and hospitals became more profitable.”

Hadlock said Bullhook handles nearly 9,600 patient visits each year from more than 3,202 people who have a place where they receive the care and services that they need. He said that provides many services for people, from regular check-ups to behavioral health care and dental services.

He said he is standing up for his patients, many of whom have pre-existing conditions.

Before the Affordable Care Act, Bullhook worked with many low-income patients on a sliding-pay scale but at cost to Bullhook, he said. With Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, more patients have health coverage now and that has improved things financially, he said.

Hadlock said if the protections from the Affordable Care Act are lost, he is worried about how they would be able to continue service for their patients with pre-existing conditions and people on Medicaid.

“The patients we serve are your friends and neighbors, and they deserve access to health care,” Hadlock said. “We cannot go back.”

Affordable health care is at risk, Bachmeier said. In February of this year, the Texas attorney general filed a lawsuit arguing that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional now that the individual mandate has been repealed. The mandate, he added, required most people to have health care coverage or to pay a fine and was crucial for the act to work.

“While legal experts agree this argument is without merit, the concern is that the federal Department of Justice normally defends federal laws in court,” Bachmeier said. “But the Department of Justice has refused to defend the constitutionality of the ACA and they specifically attacked the ACA’s most popular reform: provisions protecting people with pre-existing conditions.”

Ferry said cases like this used to not make it to the U.S. Supreme Court but there have already been three cases within the past couple of years.

That is why it is important to look at the President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, she added. Kavanaugh has criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for defending the Affordable Care Act, she said, adding that Kavanaugh has also argued that the president could declare a law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.

Ferry said that never before has the balance of power been so upset and abused so that one branch of government is given all the power.

Why I want to serve as your state senator

Havre Daily News, August 3, 2018

Now that the dog days of summer are upon us, campaign season is kicking into high gear. While it seems like November is a long way off, it will be here in the blink of an eye.

Montana’s federal races will garner an understandable and significant amount of attention. However, as has always been the case, the decisions made at the state level through the Montana Legislature are at least as important, and perhaps more so, than those being made in Washington, D.C.

It’s why I want to serve as your next state senator.

The impact of our Legislature on the everyday lives of all of us — and the communities in which we live and work — is significant. From K-12 public education to critical infrastructure to rural health care to economic development to preserving our outdoor heritage, the work of the Legislature is critical in continuing to make Montana a great place to raise a family and grow a business.

The priorities of my campaign for Senate District 14 are the priorities in which I have been involved throughout my career in economic development. Rural Montana needs a strong advocate in the state Senate who has the knowledge, the passion, the energy and the tenacity to make a difference.

Whether it’s keeping our rural hospitals open, supporting proper funding for our schools, assuring the future viability of Montana State University-Northern, funding local infrastructure projects or fighting for the public’s right to access public lands, my commitment is to work tirelessly for this very special part of Big Sky Country.

My career has allowed me to help small businesses get started or expand, and to assist local governments with their infrastructure needs, including securing grant funds for water and sewer systems, bridges, senior citizen centers and other important community needs.

I now want to take this know-how and put it to work in the state Senate. I would be honored with your support.

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